Clayfield Baptist Church: How Fellowship in A Small, Wooden House Became a 170-year-old Mission

Clayfield Baptist Church
Photo Credit: Baptist Church Archive Queensland

Behind the Toombul Shopping Centre, one can find what used to be the site of the Zion Hill mission, a small hilly area where fellowship and worship in a small, wooden house eventually gave birth to the Clayfield Baptist Church.

Zion Hill was regarded as the German Station in the 1860s. From slab huts to conduct their worship and work, the German missionaries built a small house where they had bible classes, meetings, and worships in English and German. 

The Clayfield Baptist Church was established by German settlers who wanted to grow Christianity and expand its missionary work in the colony. Before it was known as the Clayfield Baptist Church, the church was called the Hendra Baptist Church.

Fifteen years after its establishment, the chapel was moved to Alexandra Rd, where the present Clayfield Baptist Church has thrived, fulfilling its mission for more than 170 years.

Friedrich Theodor Franz, Owner of the Clayfield Land

Alexandra Rd in Clayfield was a farm owned by Friedrich Theodor Franz, also known as Karl or Charles Theodor Franz, who was originally from Pomerania in Central Europe and was a tailor by trade. He was still a bachelor when he joined Zion Hill, where he met and married Caroline Schneider, the widow of Moritz Schneider. 

Mr Franz acquired substantial properties in that part of North Brisbane and built a house along Best St in Hendra in the 1850s. He named the house Heimat, the German word for “home.” 

The house still stands on the location but has been converted into four flats.

Heimat in 1855
Heimat in 1855
Photo Credit: National Library of Australia

Mr Franz eventually donated Alexandra Rd to the Clayfield Baptist Church. This small chapel would serve the community for many years until the community had to build a new church as its members increased.

He died in 1891 and was recognised for his civic work. Clayfield’s Franz Road was named after him.

Facing the Future with a New Building

In 1891, a new building was built next to the old chapel. Designed by architect A. Robertson, the building was a Pointed Gothic structure with coloured glass windows.

 The old building was retained as a classroom for Sunday school services. In 1966, however, the original wooden chapel was dismantled and replaced with a brick building. 

The church incurred debts due to the construction of the new building. Unperturbed, the outreach ministry didn’t stop soliciting support and many responded. Attendance, as well as baptisms, increased.

The First World War was a difficult time for many members of the church, Many people lost loved ones and friends. Presents and other tokens were sent by the church to those on the frontlines. 

In the 1920s, there were over 125 kids attending Sunday school but attendance gradually declined for the next 15 years. Membership also eventually trickled down to under 40 individuals.

During the Second World war, a proposal was raised to sell the land but this wasn’t pursued. Two decades later, membership increased to the present norm of about 70 individuals. Extensions to the building were built. 

Clayfield Baptist Church before the demolition
Clayfield Baptist Church before the demolition
Photo Credit: State Library of Queensland

By the 1980s, the Pointed Gothic building had become unsafe due to storm damage and pest control issues. It was demolished and replaced with the brick building that stands there today. 

The church circa 2009
The church circa 2009
Photo Credit: Leonard J Matthews/Flickr
The church circa 2021
Photo Credit: Google Maps